Privacy vs Convenience

Your data is everywhere. You probably know this but underestimate the full extent of it. Mega digital companies like Facebook and Google collect data on their customers to advertisers for a profit.

Image result for sign in with facebook

The picture above must be familiar to many of you. A lot of services and websites give you the option to sign in with your Facebook or Google account. There is a price to this convenience however. Facebook and Google shares your information to these websites. At the minimum, Facebook typically shares your public profile while Google typically hands over your email address or mobile number. Some apps get more information than that. An example is Google providing your Google Wallet’s details to an app like Uber.

This feature is highly convenient, however, where do we draw the line?

Image result for facebook logo

In 2018, Facebook ran into some legal problems over its allowance of Cambridge Analytica to mine the personal data of its users. This controversy has sparked debates about consumer privacy.

The current heightened focus on data privacy comes with some drawbacks. Companies use personal data to improve their services, some companies might be afraid to launch certain products or services in fear of the potential backlash should the service not meet current privacy standards.

Image result for mobile network insights service

Google shut down their Mobile Network Insights in August 2019 after 2 years of running it. Mobile Network Insights shared data from users of Android powered phones. This move was fueled by motivations on not drawing attention and scrutiny from its users and public. The android operating system service helped wireless carriers determine where to extend or upgrade their mobile coverage and its removal could negatively affect users’ mobile speeds.

Privacy or convenience? I would personally choose convenience but that’s just me. I am sure that this debate will continue to be a hot topic as the world becomes more digitalised.

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you for the interesting read. Indeed, privacy of personal data is increasingly valued amongst well-informed individuals in this day and age. Laws such as the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) have also been instituted in response to the public’s demands for their personal data to be secured.

    Do you think that if companies like Facebook and Google were to have been more transparent about the extent and type of information that they were sharing about their users, perhaps the incidents of public backlash and criticism could have been avoided?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Felecia, thanks for sharing your insights. I agree that transparency is integral for these mega digital companies to establish trust and rapport with their users. The previous lapses in transparency by these companies had definitely played an important role in generating public scrutiny and I believe that companies have certainly begun to recognise this.

      In fact, after various instances of public backlash – most notably Facebook’s data breach of 87 million users, many companies including Google and Facebook themselves have been implementing measures to address concerns surrounding privacy breach.

      For instance, did you know that Google allows you to access – and delete, the information it holds on you via a single link? Check it out yourself: https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout?pli=1
      You are also given control over your data as you can even choose to download copies of the data before deleting it from Google’s online database.

      Indeed, with such efforts in place, digital giants like Google can prevent history from repeating and users like ourselves would have a greater peace of mind using their services too – a win-win in my opinion!

      Like

  2. Hi Sheng Kai, Thanks for the insightful posts on Privacy vs Convenience! I like your unique perspective on this matter, I probably will choose convenience too. However, what are the private information that we are sacrificing to achieve this convenience? Is it worth the risk ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Ernest, thank you for checking out my post. I think that the type of information consumers sacrifice is highly dependent on the social media platform. Facebook’s policy is that the website will be able access information that you allow (https://www.facebook.com/help/223184117694507?helpref=uf_permalink). Information like your email, your public profile and even your likes (https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-facebook-login-on-your-website/).

      The risks of these type of information being leaked is in my opinion, minimal. It is creepy to know that many individuals have access to your profile, however I do not think that the information that Facebook gives out is harmful at this point of time. I may think like that because I am a Millennial, and according to studies, are more comfortable sharing my personal information compared to more senior generations (https://www.emarketer.com/chart/226474/us-digital-device-users-behaviorsattitudes-toward-digital-privacy-by-generation-dec-2018-of-respondents). What do you think?

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        1. I think that companies should implement systems to protect their users’ privacy. These systems will not only help the secure the website’s users’ data, but also its credibility, encouraging public confidence on their services.

          Like

  3. What an insightful post! I agree that a line should be drawn between privacy and convenience. However, I personally lean towards the former over the latter.
    Convenience is indispensable in this day and age. Companies like dashlane keep your online passwords for you (https://www.dashlane.com/en/lp/neverforget-teal?utm_source=adwords&utm_campaign=SG_Search_Brand_Exact&utm_medium=18656374257&utm_term=dashlane&gclid=CjwKCAjwibzsBRAMEiwA1pHZrnz-jcQDx6pixVtKwNx0HkojvMswa821-PL1xjwhEVB5i4D4z7db2BoCoz0QAvD_BwE). But one can only wonder what they might do with all the data they gather. All it takes is one or a few careless employees for hundreds of thousands of online accounts to be leaked into the internet. Having a company keep all these passwords make it very attractive to hackers as well who might be intrigued at the possibility of attaining the vast amount of information by hacking one account.
    All in all, I still think that a person’s privacy is the most sacred thing. Let me know if I changed your mind! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your point of view. I think that it will be impossible to keep our privacy online at the pace that technology is moving. I believe that new, more robust systems should be put in place.

      Sure, companies like Dashlane are vulnerable to hackers. Howevern on their website, Dashlane stated its multiple robust systems in protecting the data its users provide (https://support.dashlane.com/hc/en-us/articles/207697709-How-secure-is-my-data-). At the end of the day, any hacker would need your “Master Password,” and if you do not tell anyone that master password, no one can get details on your Dashlane account. You should check out Eian Katz’s post on this topic (https://blog.dashlane.com/what-if-dashlane-gets-hacked-master-password/).

      However, I personally would not use the services of a password storing company right now as I am not 100% at ease with the idea. Looking at different articles online, it seems like my sentiment is shared with a lot of people. But I think that in the near future the convenience these companies provide will outweigh the security, making it a risk that many will be willing to take.

      Like

  4. Interesting article. I too am on the side of convenience. However I think that companies owe the right to inform use when they are using our information. Yes, they state it on their “terms of agreement” but let’s face it, no one really reads them due to the wordiness.
    What else do you think that companies can do to inform their users on the occasions that their information is being used?

    Like

    1. Honestly, it is pretty much impossible to inform users every time their data is used. The reason for this is the sheer number of times companies use their data (https://www.finextra.com/blogposting/15136/personal-data-everywhere-).

      I think that the next best thing is to highlight the privacy clauses and place them at a noticeable location when someone signs up for a website. An email can be sent with only the data security part of the terms and conditions to make sure users know where their data will be used. A monthly report can be generated with instances on which companies were given access to the users data. Users can then easily select the companies that should or should not be given access.

      These implementations can help websites protect and give their users’ control over their personal data.

      Like

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